A number of respected intellectuals and artists including writer Salman Rushdie have signed an open letter in The Guardian saying “it would bode ill” for India if BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi were to be elected to the top post.
In the midst of the general elections, the letter published on Thursday brings up the 2002 Gujarat riots under Modi’s watch as chief minister and states it is “crucial to remember the role played by the Modi government in the horrifying events that took place in Gujarat in 2002”.
“If Modi is elected, it will bode ill for India's future,” reads the headline.
The open letter, which refers to Modi refusing to "accept any responsibility or to render an apology", has been signed by a host of internationally known names such as artist Anish Kapoor, Prof Homi K Bhabha and filmmaker Deepa Mehta.
It talks of the Muslim minority being the “victims of pillage, murder and terror, resulting in the deaths of more than 2,000 men, women and children" during the riots.
According to state government records, of more than 1,200 people killed in the 2002 riots, nearly 950 were Muslims.
The letter also talks of the condition of women during the riots and states they were “subjected to brutal acts of violence and were left largely unprotected by the security forces”.
Regarding the possibility of Modi becoming India's next PM, it says, "Were he to be elected prime minister, it would bode ill for India's future as a country that cherishes the ideals of inclusion and protection for all its peoples and communities."
The open letter comes days after The Economist infuriated the BJP by calling Modi “divisive”.
Click here for The Guardian petition